Three Maine towns will receive support from the National Main Street Center to develop networks in their communities to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. Monson, Skowhegan and Lisbon were selected to participate in the Community Entrepreneurship Program through a competitive application process managed by the Maine Community Foundation in partnership with Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center.
The National Main Street Center will provide the towns with workshops, training and local assessments to help build and develop a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses. Each community will also receive a planning grant to begin the work and implementation grants of up to $25,000 in both 2020 and 2021. The total investment in each town will be $70,000.
“Developing a community-based network to support entrepreneurship will help create and sustain an innovative environment in these communities and downtowns to attract innovators and makers to start and grow businesses,” said Anne Ball, program director of MDF’s Maine Downtown Center.
“Strategies developed from this program can provide examples for other downtowns and rural main streets in Maine and across the country,” said Maggie Drummond-Bahl, senior program officer at MaineCF. “We are excited to get started.”
“The selection of Lisbon to be part of this program is a celebration of the positive change created in recent years by our local entrepreneurs and community champions,” said Brett Richardson, the town’s economic and community development director. “Local businesses are at the heart of Lisbon and a reflection of the resiliency and pride of its residents,” he said.
The National Main Street Center’s Main Street movement is a 40-year-old preservation-based approach to economic development that has transformed thousands of communities across the country. The Maine Downtown Center serves as a resource for downtown revitalization and is Maine’s statewide coordinator for the National Main Street Program. Currently Maine has 10 National Main Street Communities (nationally accredited with at least one full-time staff) and 18 Downtown Affiliate Communities (primarily all-volunteer). Of the communities participating in the program, Skowhegan is a Main Street Community and Lisbon is an affiliate program.
This pilot program is supported by MaineCF funding through its initiative to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The National Main Street Center is working in a handful of other communities around the country on similar efforts. Questions about the program should be directed to MaineCF Senior Program Officer Maggie Drummond-Bahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Aerial view of Skowhegan. Photo Sam Horine